What is the reaction to having a 4 year old child wanting to make the law?

What is the reaction to having a 4 year old child wanting to make the law?

My four and a half year old son is stubborn and domineering. For example, he does not wash and dress only when he decides, or he refuses to show that he knows the colors. We are worried. What attitude to adopt? Michelle - Namur

Claude Halmos

Psychoanalyst

answers

The way you ask your question, Michelle, is interesting. Because it comes back, it seems to me, to ask me what strategy to adopt to overcome this rebellious child, to make it give way.

But the problem for parents is not to succeed by force, seduction or cunning to break the will of a child and to comply. It is to be sure that he has sufficiently understood the necessity of the rules imposed on him to accept to submit to them.

This supposes that he has admitted his place. That is to say realized that he is not, at 4 years, the head of the house and that it is the adults who "command". But it also assumes that he is sure that the law that applies is not the law of the strongest. And that parental authority is not a simple system of oppression that would allow the strongest to crush the weakest with impunity. This understanding is essential because, without it, the child lives the power of the adult as that of a tyrant. And - which is logical - tries in turn to be the master of the world ...

How to avoid this confusion? By clearly explaining that the demands of his father and mother are not the effect of their whims and their good pleasure. That they require from him only what all parents require. And that they themselves are, although adults, subject to the same obligations.

At this level, your letter is a problem. Because it seems to me, to read you, that you put all your requests on the same level. You impose on your son to wash and get dressed - which is normal because everyone, adult or child, must do - but name the colors, what would it be an obligation? Would you accept that your husband asks you each morning to recite, to see if you know, your multiplication tables?

Think about all this, Michelle. And also to your husband's attitude. Is he sufficiently present and active in his son's education?

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